“I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
I tried to present the Christian hope no longer as such an “opium of the beyond” but rather as the divine power that makes us alive in this world.
~Jürgen Moltmann, 20th century
Advent always begins with a look back that looks forward: “The days are surely coming,” says Jeremiah (33:14) as the prophet remembers a richer time in Israel’s life under the house of David, and draws from rich memory to imagine a new chapter emerging. This is no empty nostalgia, however. The memory is creating something new: justice and righteousness in the land, safety through true peace, not under the menacing threat of violence or intimidation. The religious imagination invites us to see the larger meaning, the greater possibilities in historic events and human behavior infused by the Sprit of God. There are signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars (Luke 21:25), and the fig tree (Luke 21:29). Events have mythmaking power if we look to them as an invitation to reflect more deeply on our own experiences for their life-giving (and death-dealing) qualities.
Such is the case with our own traditions. Many of us have found new meaning, new or renewed importance in our holiday practices, for example—especially amidst the restrictions and the loss of this pandemic. So the cardinal comes to visit us this Advent. It is a familiar visitor in American lore—a symbol of beauty and warmth. A burst of color in our gray winter landscape. American colonists named the birds cardinals as a nod to the red-gowned religious figures. Egyptian, Celtic, Maori, Irish, and Hindu spiritualism, as well as the lore and legends of many Indigenous American people received the visit of a cardinal with joy and pathos.
What traditions and practices are renewing you this year? Which aren’t? What is being made new this year? What needs to be abandoned so hope can blossom?
Enter into worship.
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